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Should I just let my swarm go?


One plan could be to buy an 8 frame box, base and lid. You can use it to catch and build up swarms- then sell the bees to someone who is happy for you to transfer them into their new hive. You keep the box for next year. I say 8 frame and not a 5 frame Nuc because quite a few swarms are too big to get into a 5 frame box. That way you should be able to transfer the bees to anyone with an 8 or a 10 frame box. At other times the box will come in handy for storing and carrying around frames, and as a spring swarm lure.

If a buyer wanted the lot you could just charge them for the box and get another one.

As to swarming- even the very best beekeepers have hives swarm. At our bee society several of the very experienced beekeepers had hives swarm this year- despite swarm prevention attempts . These are guys that have been doing it for decades and manage colonies in our Botanic gardens, at the Museum, etc.

A local grumpy old beekeeper gave me a tip about keeping bees in urban environments: give the neighbors honey to keep them onside. I’ve been a practitioner of it- and it’s a good thing too- when my best hive swarmed a month ago it landed on the lemon tree right on the fence line with my neighbors. They watched me catch them and were not overly worried. I was able to explain a little to them about how passive swarm bees are if you don’t antagonise them.

Given that neighbors often end up in disputes- people who don’t really even care about your beehives are likely to use them as ammunition if you already have a feud going… Last year another member of the bee society had to relocate 5 hives very rapidly when one swarmed and landed in his neighbors yard just as they were having a BBQ…

I have now told all my neighbors that I have bees- gave them a little honey- and explained if they ever have an issue to come over and let me know. So far they are all cool…

However given that I have gone from 4 to 7 hives on the property in just 6 weeks- I now need to move some away and start two apiaries in the hills. It’s gotten a little bee crazy around these parts of late…

From now on my plan is to make splits from most hives every year and to sell them as a matter of routine.


Hostile? He probably means me but I didn’t intend to be hostile either so sorry.
Removing queen cells does not work. All you end up with is frustrated bees that replace them too quickly for you to find with weekly inspections.
Bees can and do make queens on 3 day old larvae, that’s six day old bees which are capped two days later and your swarm has gone five days before you were due to look in.
This is a great resource


Hi all,

An update…

Purchased myself a brand new setup from my local supplier and got the trampoline swarm into it nicely. I added in 2 drawn frames to give the queen a place to start work and also added 6 brand new frames with foundation. They appear to have settled in nicely and have started drawing out comb.
The other swarm that was up high in the tree decided to move spots and conveniently located themselves within striking distance and I was able to catch them as well. It was also quite large. So I had to pop back to my supplier and get another new hive setup. Tonight I added in 4 more frames to it as I had left 4 out to fit the swarm in. They were drawing out comb nicely also. So by the end of Sunday night my anxiety had finally started to settle and I was able to kick back with an ale or two.
I have also found 2 people to purchased these hives off me which is great. Should I keep these 2 hives at my property for a while to let them get established so I can guarantee that the queen is present and she is laying or is it a case of buyer beware in such situations and I hand the hive over straight away? What should I be looking for particularly when I have a look inside?

JeffH – Can I ask your approach behind only keeping nucs at your place? Can one benefit from nucs in an urban environment?
Webclan – I can understand your frustration and problems associated with AFB. Luckily, I haven’t heard of it being in my area but I guess it is just a matter of time. I also get great enjoyment from being a beekeeper. Given my location within an urban environment and with 1 neighbour not particularly happy about my bees I am left feeling quite anxious during this time of the year. Unfortunately I don’t have a flow hive………………………………yet.
Dan2 – The smaller swarm is well beyond the reach of any of my ladders and quite frankly would be a rather precarious ordeal to retrieve them. Am I irresponsible in my role as a beekeeper for letting them go……perhaps yes….perhaps no. I am taking your advice and have put them in a brand new 8 setup. Will decide whether to keep them or sell them once established.
Semaphore – Great advice and thank you very much for your lengthy input. Next swarming season and perhaps this season still…I’ll prob make splits and then sell them.
Dee – Thanks for your advice regarding the queen cells. So from what you are saying the bees swarm before the new queen has hatched? That link you included was very informative. Next swarm season I will be sure to have an arsenal of anti-swarm techniques up my sleeve.

Thank you all

Still lots to learn,



Hi Dale - good work and great to hear the progress. I reckon as long as you have at least two hives you can deal with a loss of a queen better and things like that. Three hives is good too but I understand that in your situation that might be too many. I’m not surprised that you have found a buyer - plenty of people want to get bees at the moment.


Well done catching them. Bees usually swarm on sealing of the first queen cell. Now you need to go back in the mother hives and reduce the queen cells to one. See if you can find one that is still open where you can see a grub. Destroy the rest


I heartily agree with you Dale… and it is great to read the helpful contributions on this site!


Has anyone had a queenless split, swarm with a virgin queen?


Virgin queen meeting worker bee.


We probably all have:

I’ve seen swarms with multiple queens. This past Spring, I got lucky and captured two queens from the same swarm and was able to make two colonies out of one swarm.


Well done on that one Ed!

I hadn’t realised that they will sometimes swarm with one or more of the virgin queens (probably sometimes multiple times with different virgin queens) even though the hive has no old or laying queen present. I hope this post can alert other novices to this possibility with a queenless split that goes on to make multiple emergency queens. I thought the first queen out would kill the others. Interesting too when I opened the hive to witness a queen hatching. I have since read that this happens because the guard bees - who are stopping the yet to emerge queens from hatching - get distracted by the bumblings of the beekeeper moving the frame they were on.


I never have seen a split do that. Surely you have to make sure it doesn’t? No point in splitting a hive and letting half of it get lost? What I have seen is a colony casting and that indeed will be a virgin queen by definition.
In a strong give the bees will not let one queen kill the others. They will let one emerge and keep the rest imprisoned but fed till the first has matured enough to fly with a swarm. If they are still strong they may do the same again and maybe again till they settle.

PS if you do disturb the peace and see a virgin emerge while there are still sealed queen cells then the best thing is to open all of them forcing the bees to sort it out without swarming


Hilary Kearney of www.girlnextdoorhoney.com has a video of a massive swarm (probably beach ball sized) she collected, which probably had more than 10 queens in it. The bees in the swarm looked like they had decided which queen to keep, because they were clearly balling the others. :worried:


Hi Dee - yes you are right… I couldn’t believe it actually, although I do expect the unexpected. I have been subsequently reading some further information online, and the way I read it, this can indeed happen if the colony is strong enough. They say bees can swarm from any type of queen cell. The thing was (as luck would have it) I had just suited up to go and do an inspection when I noticed they were gathering in one of my small trees not far from the hive, and by the time I got myself fully organised, they had clumped nicely and I was able to get them easily. I tore out all the emergency queen cells from the split, but all but one had already hatched. A couple of days later, fearing a further swarm or swarms from the same hive with the remaining virgin queens (14 cells), I did a Taranov split, and again, I would be very surprised if it didn’t work to calm things down. So far so good. The original hive is split into 4 now and I will combine into two at some stage.

What I did along the way and prior to the swarm, which I wont do again, is to leave all the emergency queen cells in the queenless split, plus also, I left the split in the original position, which meant that split was strong as the field bees returned to it. I put the old queen and half the brood fully covered in nurse bees in a another spot a few metres away. I know not everyone will agree with this, but next time I will remove all but one emergency queen cell and place the queenless split in a new spot, or perhaps do an even split and put the hives right next to each other in the original position.


Hi Dawn, thanks for that. Yes, as I understood it, I would have expected cast swarms to have virgin queen or queens in it. I just didn’t expect a split hive without the old queen to swarm. Sometimes a swarm might have the old queen and one or more virgin queens too I guess. I suppose if they don’t kill each other and want to move some of the hive on, they just go and work it out later!

I actually noticed queen bees “everywhere” the other day. It seemed as if the bees were hedging their bets.


Best way to ensure that at least half of your genes go on! :smile:


It is said over and over again that bees won’t swarm on emergency cells in a split but they do if the split is full of flying bees. They won’t if no flyers. I always this queen cells

Honey flow South East QLD

…well they certainly got me a beauty. :grimacing: I was disheartened to see the swarm because I thought I had done so well, but I also must say, it wasn’t a possibility that “stood out” from all I have read.

As it turned out, there were many more flying bees in that hive than I imagined there might be, and the hive with the old queen was much quieter than I imagined too.

I think you mean “thin” queen cells…and yes I take your previous advice as to this with a much greater understanding and experience now :grinning:


I’ve made a deal with another beekeeper to take my overage and also help me maintain a certain amount of bees.


That’s a good deal you have there Martha. It’ll be a bonus if you can get him/her to explain what he/she is doing along the way.


If you are giving bees to the other beekeeper don’t be afraid to ask questions. Fair trade in my opinion bees for knowledge.